At about this same time Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his troops. He recruited in addition thirty-two local sheiks, all outfitted with horses and chariots. He set out in force and surrounded Samaria, ready to make war.
He sent an envoy into the city to set his terms before Ahab king of Israel:
"Ben-Hadad lays claim to your silver and gold, and to the pick of your wives and sons."
The king of Israel accepted the terms: "As you say, distinguished lord; I and everything I have is yours."
But then the envoy returned a second time, saying, "On second thought, I want it all - your silver and gold and all your wives and sons. Hand them over - the whole works.
I'll give you twenty-four hours; then my servants will arrive to search your palace and the houses of your officials and loot them; anything that strikes their fancy, they'll take."
The king of Israel called a meeting of all his tribal elders. He said, "Look at this - outrageous! He's just looking for trouble. He means to clean me out, demanding all my women and children. And after I already agreed to pay him off handsomely!"
The elders, backed by the people, said, "Don't cave in to him. Don't give an inch."
So he sent an envoy to Ben-Hadad, "Tell my distinguished lord, 'I agreed to the terms you delivered the first time, but this I can't do - this I won't do!'" The envoy went back and delivered the answer.
Ben-Hadad shot back his response: "May the gods do their worst to me, and then worse again, if there'll be anything left of Samaria but rubble."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)